Ellen Stoll Walsh is the author and illustrator of the timeless classics, Mouse Count and Mouse Paint. Writing first for her son, Ben, and now for children everywhere, she has created jewel-like tales that are masterpieces of wit and brevity. Her illustrations of finely cut paper compliment the stories to perfection. In Jack's Tale, Ellen has fun with the fairy tale formula, having to coax a reluctant frog to participate in the story. Jack replies, "Leave me out. Fairy tales aren't safe--I saw those trolls!" Other titles include For Pete' Sake, Samantha, and Pip's Magic.

Here, Ellen recalls how she became a storyteller and author:

"I was part of a big family. There were ten children in all and I was second from the top. As one of the oldest kids I used to cuddle up in bed with my mother and two sisters while my mother read to us. My mother loved books, and she took such pleasure in reading to us that we couldn’t help loving them too. She made up voices for the different characters and great sound effects -- and when something was funny she would laugh until tears rolled down her cheeks. She knew lots of stories as well -- especially from Uncle Remus -- and sometimes she just made up stories as she went along. We laughed a lot in that warm, safe bed with my mother. As the family got bigger she didn’t have much time to read to the little ones, so I became the story teller.

"I loved being from a large family, but I didn’t like the noise and confusion that came with it. I wanted to move in with Nancy Drew. Despite the scrapes she got herself into her life was calm and orderly compared to mine.

"With a good book I could block out whatever was happening around me. I was hardly ever without one. I found science fiction very exciting, especially books by Robert Heinlein, and especially Red Planet. Mars was one of the most wonderful places I visited as a kid. I read many books about indians, life on the frontier, dogs, horses, ponies, baseball, in fact pretty much all the books my library would let me read. In those days we were not allowed to take out books that were supposedly too advanced for our age group, so I made the most of what they offered. But their policy was a big mistake. I ran out of things to read. That is hard to imagine today. I use my public library all the time. It is right around the corner. I will never take for granted the fact that I can choose whatever books I want to.

"I never thought of making books myself until my son’s third birthday. Ben was curled up in my lap while I read Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse by Leo Leonni to him for the first time. Half way through reading Alexander  I knew that I wanted to make children’s books too. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else."


Copyright 1999 Ellen Stoll Walsh. All rights reserved.